Karbala in Kashmiri

As a child the most tearful account I heard in Kashmiri was by Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.
"Bekas Hussain Musafir Hussain. Allah -o- Akbar. Asalam aliekum."
"Bekas Hussain Musafir Hussain. Allah -o- Akbar. Asalam aliekum."Special arrangement

Shia Muslims around the world mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the Sayyid-ul-Shuhada (master of martyrs), in Muharram, the first month in the lunar Hijri calendar.

The third Imam (AS) and a small group of his followers and family members were martyred by the tyrant of his time - Yazid Bin Moaweya, in the battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram (known as Ashura) in the year 680 AD.

The night following the Day of Ashura is known as Sham e Ghariban.

It was the night when the exhausted, hungry and tired families of Imam Hussain and his companions sat in loneliness, each thinking about the loved ones they had lost in the unjust battle on that day.

Ashura is always a reverence. As a child the most tearful account I heard in Kashmiri was by Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari... Numb to this day as I remember analogies the great orator shared. A sea of voices would recite the background verses over and over again. He then would take over.

Bekas Hussain Musafir Hussain. Allah -o- Akbar. Asalam aliekum.

Dear Beloved ones to the wailing audiences what can I share with you. Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) the darling in pain and hurt. Oh God! Oh my God! Karbala the House of the Beloved has been attacked. Mohammad Arabi (PBUH) has come out of heaven without a turban. Oh dear ones and the servant of your Prophet, the maids of Hazrat Sakina (RA), Hazrat Um-e-Salma (RA) is sleeping. A tired woman. She is weeping. When asked why she is weeping, replies, ‘I just saw the Prophet Of Islam (PBUH) in my dream without his turban, head bowed and I ask him, Oh Nabi-ul-Kareem what am I seeing. He replied, aren’t you seeing my hands, I was trying to pick up Hussain from Karbala.

Dear audience this is the brief history of Karbala. From morning to afternoon neither a young man nor an elderly person survived. No well wishers who could be called. Friends and the light of my eyes I am a servant in front of you. It is your greatness that you are hearing my words. But what can I do to this night? How shall I speak? A sister would shiver in the presence of her own brothers, the daughter whose lips would only speak in silence.

Mourners, in a matter of few hours everything was over. Nothing was left in Karbala. Neither Hussain, or Abbas Alamdar, nor Iman Hussain’s friends. I am telling you that nothing remained. All of Karbala deserted.

Hazrat Zainab standing at the door of the tent. Looking over the horizon seeing a dead body here. Another there. Some with spears still on their bodies. Arrows. And she is lost wondering in the mercy…

The night would go on. One anecdote is followed by another. A live telecast of expression and enactment of pain. The orator is describing it in exact historical detail. In chaste Kashmiri. Over pin drop silence. You have to be glued to him. Hypnotised. It is a narrative waiting to be told. And how cannot the pain be shared.

Shabir Durrani, a Kashmiri engineer based in Dubai feels, “He had his way to grab the handkerchief to wipe the outpour and narrate the historical facts about Waqa- Qarbala .. It would bring chill down the spine while hearing the sermon on Shame-Garibaan...”

Naeem Akhtar the contemporary political friend of Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari remarked on my social media saying, “No doubt! His Sham e Ghareeban sermons would move hearts.”

Qazi Ajaz Rashid opines, “My father and I would eagerly wait for his discourse on every 9th eve of Ashura on DD Srinagar. So philosophical and one comprehensive lot interconnecting historical events to the tragedy and sacrifices of Imam Hussain and his family. Indeed, an authority on Islamic history.”

Rehana Kausar “too remember watching and listening to him on DD. It was the best account of Ashura I have heard. So moving.”

The pain of Karbala is not about loss or helplessness. It is a victory. And as an Islamic scholar, Iftikhar Hussain Ansari was narrating this oral history in our own words. He style was Kashmiri. Idioms. Phrases. Anecdotes as well.

As per the Wikipedia, “Iftikhar Hussain Ansari (26 April 1942 – 30 September 2014), widely known among his followers as Moulvi Sahib, was a Kashmiri Shia cleric, politician, businessman and a proponent of the Grand Ashura Procession In Kashmir. He succeeded his father Muhammad Jawad Ansari as president of the All Jammu and Kashmir Shia Association in Jammu & Kashmir in 1962, a position which he held for life. He was a sitting member of Jammu and Kashmir’s Legislative Assembly for the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party; he was earlier a member of the National Conference and Congress.”

Ansari died at his residence in Dar ul Jawad, Qamarwari, Srinagar on the morning of 30 September 2014 after a prolonged liver illness. Ansari had been undergoing specialised treatment in the United States. Various political, religious and social leaders offered condolences. Almost half a million people attended his funeral procession, from Qamarwari to Zadibal Imambargah where namaz e jenazah was offered. He was buried in his ancestral graveyard, Baba Mazar, Alamgari Bazar, Zadibal, Srinagar.

He was educated at The Najaf Seminary, also known as the al-Hawza Al-Ilmiyya the oldest and one of the most important Shia seminaries (hawza) in the world. It is located in the city of Najaf in Iraq. The school also operates a campus in Karbala, Iraq and the Sultan ul Madaris Urdu a Shia Islamic Madrasa for higher religious education in Lucknow where major course of studies include Jurisprudence, Theology and Islamic Literature.

Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari is one of the rare political stalwarts who stood by the people of the state and did not leave valley during peak of militancy. He escaped three assassination attempts. In June 2000 Molvi Ansari escaped the explosion of a landmine while addressing a religious congregation at Gund Khwaja Qasim. The blast killed twelve people. In the same year, on September 1, Molvi Ansari was injured by an IED explosion that killed two policemen and a driver.

Karbala is not a story. It’s a reference. We live it every day. Truth vs lies. Love vs hatred. Right or wrong. The path of sacrifice. Suffering. To liberate. And to trust Him in all.

Ajaz Rashid is social entrepreneur and CEO, Gauri Kaul Foundation

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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